A new report finds the three most promising interventions that might slow the cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease: brain training, blood pressure management, and increased physical activity. Though the evidence supporting these activities' effectiveness is encouraging, they are still considered as inconclusive therefore, may require additional research to confirm.
Sorting Through The Data
Scientists are continuously learning more about the many factors concerning Alzheimer's disease especially since many families are affected by this most common form of dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rates from Alzheimer's disease in the country increased by 55 percent from 1999 to 2014.
As such, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called experts to conduct an extensive review on the current material available regarding possible interventions for cognitive decline and dementia.
In response, the experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) conducted the thorough research and found that none of the currently known intervention practices are being supported by strong evidence.
However, brain training, blood pressure management, and increased physical activity were seen to be the most promising intervention methods against cognitive decline and dementia with encouraging albeit limited and inconclusive evidence.
Encouraging But Inconclusive
Brain training activities are intervention methods which focus on enhancing memory, processing speed, and reasoning. What experts found was that though brain training can be successful in enhancing cognitive performance on a specific trained task, the long-term benefits of such activities remain to be unclear and inconclusive.
Similarly, an increased physical activity is one such intervention method which experts found to have encouraging, yet inconclusive evidence showing positive results.
Amid the many studies regarding the health benefits of increased physical activity, the experts found that although there is encouraging evidence of its effectiveness against dementia and cognitive decline, there is still currently no evidence sufficient enough to support increased physical activity as an effective preventative method.
For people with hypertension, the experts yet again point to encouraging but inconclusive evidence pointing to blood pressure management, particularly in midlife, as an effective method to delay Alzheimer's disease. Especially for people between the ages of 35 and 65, the experts believe that there is enough evidence to correlate blood pressure management's cardiovascular health benefits and delaying cognitive decline.
Because the evidence to support any intervention methods were deemed not strong enough to be supported completely by the experts, they noted on the report Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward that they cannot strongly support any public health campaign promoting the use of any intervention method.
That's not saying that people shouldn't watch their blood pressure or engage in brain training and physical activities. What they simply imply is that with regard to preventing and delaying cognitive decline and dementia, there is more research to be done in hopes of eventually finding an effective method of preventing such conditions.